Detainees being investigated for links to Islamic state after escaping from Thailand
BATU PAHAT, Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur will honour its agreement with Beijing to extradite 11 Uighur Muslims wanted by China.
However, the Uighurs would be sent back to China only after the conclusion of a police investigation, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.
“Malaysian police are conducting an investigation to gather intelligence, especially to check whether any of them is involved in the Islamic State [IS] terrorist group.
“Other countries do not need to worry about the Malaysian government’s deciฌsion over the matter,” he told reporters after a session with students at Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia in Batu Pahat on Saturday.
The group of Uighurs had broken out of a detention centre near the Malaysia-Thai border in November after digging holes in the wall and using blankets to climb down walls.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also home minฌister, said Malaysian police had been in contact with their Chinese counterparts to discuss the extradition process.
“Our decision to extradite is based on agreements signed with China, includฌing the Mutual Legal Assistance and the extradition treaty.
He earlier said he had received an official request from China to deport 11 Uighurs who were detained in the counฌtry last year.
“Prior to this, we have extradited Malaysians from China who were involved in falsifying credit cards and other criminal activities. As such we will consider Beijing’s request,” he said.
The 11 Uighur Muslims were among reportedly 20 detainees in an immigraฌtion detention centre in Songkhla’s Sadao district who made a dramatic escape from detention in November.
The escapees were among 300 Uighurs who had been detained in Thailand since 2014 pending an invesฌtigation into their origins.
China has requested that Thailand deport Uighurs, claiming they are milฌitants, with 109 of them already having been sent back to China, sparking interฌnational condemnation.
Thai police said the group made two holes in a wall at the facility with sharp objects before climbing out and lowerฌing themselves to the ground using blanฌkets as ropes at about 3am.
They did not have food and could not communicate with villagers in Thailand and Malaysia, police said.
Six senior immigration police offiฌcers in Songkhla have been transferred to their regional headquarters and face an investigation following the escape.
The Uighurs were being detained for allegedly entering the Kingdom illegalฌly. They had fled China, reportedly to flee from repression, and wanted to go to Turkey.